Guide To The North West 200 Motorcycle Races 2023

Riders coming down the coast road to mILL ROAD CORNER ON THE NORTH WEST 200

Possibly the best and fastest road race in the world

Welcome to the ultimate guide to the North West 200, one of the world’s fastest road races! In this guide, we will take a closer look at the history of the Vauxhall International North West 200, the rider lineup for the upcoming 2023 race, the key riders and competitors to watch out for, the breathtaking attractions of Northern Ireland, and the latest news and updates surrounding this thrilling event.

The North West 200 is one of the world’s most exhilarating and renowned motorcycle road races, held annually on closed roads in Northern Ireland. It features several categories, with the Superbike races being the highlight and crowd-puller of the event.

Superbike races at the North West 200 feature high-powered, 1000cc versions of standard road bikes, modified for competition. These bikes reach speeds over 200 mph on the public roads that make up the 8.9-mile circuit, known for its blend of long straights, fast bends, and challenging chicanes.

The race draws the best riders globally, creating a fiercely competitive field, battling not only against each other but the challenging and unique nature of the road course. The triangular circuit runs between the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine, and Portrush, creating an electrifying atmosphere as spectators line the streets, often within inches of the high-speed action.

Safety is paramount, with stringent regulations and measures in place. Despite these, the race is known for its dangers and has seen several accidents over its history.

The North West 200 is more than a race; it’s a week-long festival of motorcycling, where camaraderie, skill, and sheer thrill come together. It draws fans from all over the world, who come not only for the Superbike races but the entire racing spectacle, celebrating a rich tradition in motorbike racing.

The North West!

The North West 200, held annually in May around the “Triangle” of Portstewart/Portrush/Coleraine, is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest sporting events and one of the world’s fastest road races. 

This is the place to go if you want an adrenaline rush. As you can be up close to the action, you can feel the wind as the bikes speed past, hear the noise reverberating through your chest, and smell those fumes, which, as any bike rider knows, just smell great.

History Of the North West 200

The North West 200 has a rich history that dates back to its first race in 1929. Over the years, it has grown in popularity and has become one of the most anticipated events in the motorcycle racing calendar. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a world-renowned road race, the North West 200 has captivated the hearts of racing enthusiasts.

See our article here on the History of the North West 200


Thursday 11th May – Race Schedule (5pm to 9pm)




Saturday 13th May – Race Schedule (9:15am to 9pm)








Tuesday 9th May – Practice Schedule (9.15am to 3.15pm)

1st Session – NEWCOMERS ONLY 09.45

2nd Session – SUPERSPORT 10.30

3rd Session – SUPERBIKE 11.30

4th Session – SUPERTWIN 12.30

5th Session – SUPERSTOCK 13.30

Thursday 11th May – Practice Schedule (9:15am to 3.15pm)

1st Session SUPERTWIN 09.45

2nd Session SUPERSTOCK 10.45

3rd Session SUPERSPORT 11.45

4th Session SUPERBIKE 12.45


The Road Races (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 has been approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly and received Royal Assent. The changes to the road closing legislation now give the International North West 200 organisers, in exceptional circumstances, the ability to move a practice or race day, either one day forward or one day back, giving 24 hours’ notice to the Department for Infrastructure.

Should extreme weather be forecast, the 2023 contingency days could be: Wednesday 10th May and Friday 12th, May 2023.

In lieu of using one of the above full contingency days, organisers may also extend the road closing times on Tuesday 9th and Saturday 13th May 2023 as follows:

Existing Road Closing Contingency 

Tuesday – 9.15am – 3.15pm 5.00pm – 9.00pm

Saturday – 9.15am – 7.00pm 7.00pm – 9.00pm

Any subsequent amendments to the race week schedule will be advertised to the public via the International North West 200 website, BBC NI TV & Radio and the NW200 Facebook and Twitter feed.

See the circuit maps and learn more about vantage points to watch the race. Most locations are free; you park and walk to the course. Our chosen spot is anywhere along the first couple of kilometres.

Rider Lineup for 2023

The 2023 North West 200 race is expected to feature an impressive lineup of talented riders from all over the world. One rider who has consistently dominated the North West 200 is the legendary Michael Dunlop. Known for his exceptional skills and fearless approach, Dunlop will undoubtedly be one to watch.

Exciting Superbike Race

One of the highlights of the North West 200 is the thrilling Superbike race. With speeds reaching up to 200mph, this race is a true test of skill, endurance, and bravery. The competitors push themselves and their bikes to the limit as they navigate the challenging twists and turns of the North West Coast.

What to Expect in the 2023 Race

The 2023 North West 200 race promises to be an exhilarating event filled with nail-biting moments and intense battles for supremacy. One rider who has consistently showcased his dominance in previous races is Michael Dunlop. With his unmatched experience and speed, he is expected to be a strong contender for the top spot.

Dunlop’s Dominance

Michael Dunlop has established himself as the King of the North West with his impressive track record. He has claimed victory in multiple races and continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on a motorcycle. Dunlop’s skill and determination make him a force to be reckoned with in the 2023 race.

Thrilling Superstock Race

In addition to the Superbike race, the Superstock race is another highly anticipated event at the North West 200. This race features production-based motorcycles, adding an element of relatability for motorcycle enthusiasts. The Superstock race is known for its fierce competition and close finishes, making it a must-watch for spectators.

Supertwin Showdown

The Supertwins race brings a unique flavor to the North West 200. With lightweight and nimble bikes, the competitors showcase their skills and tactics in this fiercely contested race. The Supertwins race is often filled with unpredictability and surprises, making it a crowd-favorite every year.

Key Riders and Competitors

Aside from Michael Dunlop, numerous other riders have made their mark on the North West 200. Alastair Seeley, known as the King of the North West, has a remarkable lap record of wins in this prestigious event. Glenn Irwin’s rise to success has also been impressive, and he is considered one of the top contenders in the upcoming race. The Honda Dream Team, consisting of talented riders, is also expected to make a strong showing.

Alastair Seeley: The King of the North West

Alastair Seeley’s name is synonymous with the North West 200. With a record-breaking number of wins, he has cemented his status as the all-time great of this race. Seeley’s skill, experience, and intimate knowledge of the circuit give him a competitive edge over his rivals.

Glenn Irwin’s Rise to Success

Glenn Irwin’s journey to success has been nothing short of remarkable. He has established himself as a formidable force on the motorcycle racing scene and has had considerable success at the North West 200. Irwin’s determination and natural talent make him a strong contender in any race he participates in.

The Honda Dream Team

The Honda Dream Team is a formidable group of riders who have come together to conquer the North West 200. With their collective skills, experience, and the support of Honda, this team is expected to make waves in the upcoming race. Their formidable lineup includes talented riders such as Davey Todd and Jeremy McWilliams.


  • Eight races, four exciting classes: Supersport, Supertwin, Superstock, Superbike
  • 4 hours of exciting timed practice sessions – Tuesday & Thursday
  • Thursday Night Racing – 3 Races
  • Saturday Racing All Day – 5 Races
  • Riders Meet & Greet
  • Vintage Bike & Car Run
  • Paddock Walkabouts
  • Live Music & Entertainment
  • Family Motor Festival
  • Family Fun Village
  • Miss North West 200
  • Fireworks Display


Special Offers, Grandstand Tickets, Paddock Passes and Race Programmes, will be available on the official websiteOfficial Ticket prices and sales. However, we recommend you book your accommodation now!

Accommodation for the North West 200

Tip: click the highlighted text to see accommodation options. 

As you can imagine, with such a popular annual event, hotels and B&Bs in Portrush and Portstewart get booked out quickly for North West 200 week.

Fastest Laps At The NW200

Weather conditions since 2010 have also been inclement, more often than not, but 2016 finally saw perfect weather conditions, so the outright lap record was broken, unsurprisingly. Whilst the Superstock race saw a number of riders set their personal best laps, quicker than what they did in the Superbike race, it was the latter where the outright lap record was set with Michael Dunlop’s dominant victory seeing him lap at 123.207mph, half a second inside Josh Brookes’ old mark.

Despite superb weather in 2018, neither the Superbike nor Superstock lap records but after two years of various movements within the fastest 25 riders, records were finally broken in 2022 when racing resumed after two tears being missed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dunlop’s outright lap record was convincingly broken by no less than five riders with Peter Hickman claiming the record with a stunning lap of 124.799mph in the opening Superbike race. That means he now holds the unique record of being the current outright lap record holder at the NW200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.

With good weather in 2022, lap records were broken in every class, a sign of motorcycle development in the hiatus with eight of the fastest 25 times coming in the year. Richard Cooper went from the fastest newcomer in 2019, with a speed of 120.659mph and 24thfastest on the charts, to the third fastest rider of all time. Davey Todd was another big moving going from 19th quickest to fourth.

Top 10 riders have now lapped the course at more than 120mph.

1 Peter Hickman 1000cc BMW 2022 Superbike 4m18.753s 124.799mph

2 Glenn Irwin 1000cc Honda 2022 NW200 4m19.048s 124.656

3 Richard Cooper 1000cc Suzuki 2022 NW200 4m19.280s 124.545

4 Davey Todd 1000cc Honda 2022 Superbike 4m19.344s 124.519

5 Dean Harrison 1000cc Kawasaki 2022 Superbike 4m21.572s 123.454

6 Michael Dunlop 1000cc BMW 2016 Superbike 4m22.095s 123.207

7 Josh Brookes 1199cc Ducati 2022 NW200 4m22.236s 123.141

8 Alastair Seeley 1000cc BMW 2017 Superstock 4m22.755s 122.898

9 Lee Johnston 1000cc BMW 2022 Superstock 4m22.764s 122.894

10 Ian Hutchinson 1000cc BMW 2016 Superstock 4m23.175s 122.702

Camping At The NW200

Suppose you are into camping or have a caravan/campervan. In that case, you can take a spot for the week in the official event campsite for £300, including two paddock passes. Note that there is no electric hookup. See more information about the official campsites.

There are also 

Highview Holiday park

Highview Holiday Park in Portrush is a family-friendly camping destination. Offering caravan and tent sites with picturesque views, it’s a stone’s throw from beautiful beaches and local attractions. Amenities include electric hookups, laundry facilities, and a play area, making it an ideal base for the North West 200 and the Causeway Coast.

Maddybenny Farm Campsite

The Maddybenny farm is nicely tucked in behind the track just north of Portrush and with views over Portrush and Scotland. It has 10 hardstanding pitches on gravel for caravans and motorhomes, plus 14 grass tent pitches (some also suit caravans). 

There are 16 electric hookup points too. Set in picturesque surroundings, with mature gardens and plenty of free-range hens, ducks and guinea fowl. Dogs allowed. 

It’s an ideal place for a family holiday, and the campsite has just been enlarged, giving campers the luxury of lots of extra space.

This is where visitors can enjoy a quiet break within easy reach, The North West 200 Track.

Juniper Hill Caravan Park

Juniper Hill Caravan Park in Portrush is strategically positioned for the North West 200 motorbike race. With stunning coastal views, this well-equipped site offers caravan pitches and modern facilities. Its proximity to the race circuit and local amenities makes it a favoured choice for spectators and race enthusiasts looking for a convenient and scenic stay.

Several spots can be found on This Irish Camping Site, such as Wild CampingAire de Service and other places to camp or Glamp in Northern Ireland.

Another option is to make your way to a neighbouring town and, ideally, one well connected by public transport since parking around Portstewart or Portrush that week can be tricky, especially with road closures.

Train links: Portrush and Coleraine have a train service that, although relatively infrequent, is only 10 minutes or so. If you can’t find cheaper accommodation in Coleraine (it is pretty limited as I write this), you can easily catch another train either up the line towards Derry~Londonderry (try Castlerock) or down the line towards Belfast (try Ballymoney).

Bus links: While busses may be impacted by road closures and congestion, you can catch a bus from Portrush (usually hourly), which travels along the coast stopping at towns such as PortballintraeBushmillsBallintoy and Ballycastle. This option works well if you are travelling with family who are not keen on motorsports and prefer sightseeing, a trip to the Bushmills distillery or beach life.

A Guide to Carrick A Rede RopeBridge


Carrick-A-Rede Ropebridge

Carrick-a-rede is a famous footbridge located near Portrush on the North Coast of Northern Ireland.

The name Carrick-a-rede is from the Irish Carraig a’ Ráid meaning “rock of the casting”.

The footbridge connects a tiny rock island called Carrick-a-rede to the mainland, therefore, earning the name Carrick-a-rede footbridge.

Carrick a rede has had a bridge for over 350 years ago, initially built at the start of each fishing season with slates of wood strung up with just one guide rope.

No one lives on the island; however, there is a small bothy and workshop previously used by the local salmon fishermen who used it for shelter and to land their catch. For many years the sole function of the bridge was to transport men on and off until the salmon population dwindled to a point whereby it became unviable to make a living from fishing. Sadly 2002 was the last season (which runs from June to September) that was commercially fished, where the annual catch was just over 300, which was the average catch per day in the 1960s.

The current bridge is now owned by the National Trust and was built by Heyn Construction in 2008 at a cost of £16,000 ($21,000). Whereas the original bridges were made of rope and wood, the current bridge is built of steel wires ropes and Douglas Fir wooden slats along the path. In terms of dimensions, the new bridge is 66 ft long and is suspended 100 ft above crashing waves and rocks. The bridge can support up to 10 tonnes of weight…..more than enough to support the 8 visitors limit that the wardens allow at any one time.

If the weather is turbulent, the gates will be closed off for safety purposes, therefore, before visiting the area check on the weather. You can also check on the dedicated Twitter (@NTCarrickarede) site for the most up to date information. Most tourists tend to avoid it during the rainy and windy days, so it may the best time to go if you want it all to yourself.

From speaking to the local guides, occasionally visitors go over and they are afraid to come back across the bridge due to the wind swaying the bridge. Therefore, their only option is to be ferried back from the island to the mainland via a boat. There are the people who land on the island using helicopters, but this is a rare occurrence happening once or twice in a year.

If you want to get an alternative view of the Rope Bridge, there are sailing and kayaking tours that will take you under the bridge. When the tide is unusually low, you can even walk under the bridge.

These tours are ideal for exploring the rarely seen caves, which were made famous in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Sunset at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in County Antrim this week. Photo by Tim Johnston.

— Barra Best (@barrabest) 4 May 2017

The journey to the bridge is not ideal for people with mobility issues, not because of the bridge itself, but the path leading up to the bridge is essentially an uneven gravel path…and then there are the steps at the end.

If you can master the courage to descend down the steps and walk across the bridge, which only takes a few minutes, you will be rewarded with spectacular views. From the island, you will be able to see Rathlin island, Ireland’s only inhabited offshore Island, and even Scotland. You will also get to enjoy the flora found on the island and breathtaking views of a clear blue sea.

When you arrive in the area, there is a car park, and if you feel a bit chilly after hiking your way to and from the bridge, then there is a tea room where you can have some of the best tea in that part of Ireland.

How Much Does it Cost?

Carrick-a-rede is open all year round and is free for those who just want to walk along the coastal path see the bridge close up or, however, if you’re going to cross onto the island you’ll need to purchase a ticket.

As the bridge can get very busy at times (it had over 450000 visitors last year) the National Trust has started to operate an online timed ticketing service. Visitors are able to purchase tickets from 09.30, with the latest ticket sale at 18.15 during peak season.

Tickets cost

Adult Ticket £9.00

Child Ticket £4.50

Family Ticket £22.50 (2 adults and up to 3 kids)

National Trust Members and Touring Pass holder are free…but still have to book.

You can book online here 

Carrick-a-Rede on Film and Tv

The HBO Fantasy series based on Goerge R. R. Martins Novels, Game of Thrones, has filmed a number of their scenes on the island. Most of the scenes are in the second season.

Carrick a rede was the land referred to as Storms End located in Stormlands. The land had one of the strongest castles in the realm and was under the control of the House Baratheon. In the game of thrones, the producers made storms end the regional capital. Carrick at rede island featured in season 2 episodes below.

Episode 3: What is dead may never die – this is when Catelyn Stark arrives in Baratheon’s camp during a tournament that was won by Brienne of Tarth. Later Baratheon shows off his army of 100,000 strong men willing to fight to the death for him. You can see the Larrybane Quarry next to Carrick-a-rede and the making of that episode here

Episode 4: Garden of bones – this is when Little finger arrives at Renley Baratheon’s camp as a political envoy to try and gain his trust

  • King Stannis also arrives at stormlands and heads to Renley’s Baratheon’s camp to ask Renley to relinquish his claim to the throne and serve him
  • Ser Davos takes the red priestess via boat to some caves near Renleys camp where she gives birth to a shadow creature

Episode 5: The Ghost of Harrenhal – this is when Renley Baratheon is killed by the shadow creature born by the high priestess and his army divides after his death.


Carrick A Rede island is one of the best examples of a volcanic plug in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Erosion by the Irish Sea/Sea of Moyle has exposed the neck of this old volcano.

The violence of the molten rock punching its way through the soft chalk 60 million years ago can be seen through the presence of geological evidence such as Tuff, Explosion breccias, explosion bobs and grey volcanic ash in the layers of the rock of the Island and surrounding.

Along the whole North Antrim coast, that forms much of the Antrim plateau, the characteristic Ulster Chalk is topped by basalt cliffs. At Carrickarede, the ancient volcanic pipe has left dolerite, a more robust rock than basalt, which erodes more slowly. Behind the dolerite, to the south, the vent is filled with pyroclastic rocks that break down more easily, mostly a coarse tuff agglomerate. The combination of the hard rock out front and the softer rock behind, with long-term erosion by the waves, has eventually left this small island.

The island has Large caves which can be seen best during low tide. It is assumed that at some point the caves were used to serve as boat builders homes. They also provided shelter for fishing vessels during stormy weather.

The natural sea surrounding the area has blue waters that sometimes turn green making it an area of particular interest. Unique flora and fauna cover the island. It has a lot of bird colonies that play an essential role in the area’s ecology. Example, Razorbills are birds that live the island and only come back when it is time to mate and nest. The cliffs of the island are covered with birdsfoot trefoil and thrifts that give the island a paradise-like look.

How to Get To Carrick A Rede

There are several routes you can take to get to the National Trust Carrick a rede rope bridge. It’s important to note that the bridge opens at 9:30 am, and the ticket sales stop at 5:15 in the afternoon that’s 45 minutes before the closing time. In some circumstances, the closing time may be changed due to tourist traffic. In the summer the closing time is extended to 7:00 pm because it is the peak season while in the winter the closing time can be as early as 3 in the afternoon, this can be due to the severe weather conditions or lack of tourists wanting to cross the bridge.

Carrick a rede is located only 15 miles (around 20 minutes) from Portrush and 60 miles (around an hour) to the north of Belfast. For ease, most tourists are guided to the area by a tour guide at a small fee.

Public Transport

Bus – visitors who are not familiar with the area can head out on the bus from Dunluce Avenue and take the 402(a) or 172 also known as the causeway Rambler. A timetable for this can be found here. From Belfast, visitors can take the 218 Goldline Bus (or the train as they stop in the same place) to Coleraine and then get the 402 or 172 Bus as above.

Car – Carrick-a-rede is only a short 15 mile or 20-25 minute drive along the stunning Causeway Coastal Route (A2)from Portrush, passing the Giants Causeway, The Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle. Driving from Belfast will take around 1 hour 10 minutes depending on the traffic to cover the 60 miles. First, you will have to take the M2 route, then switch on to the A26 until Cloughmills and then switch over to the A44 (Drones road which switches onto Maghermore in Capecastle) to arrive at the park.

If you have a bit more time, then we recommend you take the Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast to Portrush. This is one of the best driving routes in the world. You can find out more about it here.


The fastest way to access Carrick-a-rede is by using one of the airports around Belfast.

Belfast International Airport (BFS) – this is an international airport approximately 20 miles away from the Belfast city centre. From the airport take the 300 Airport Express Bus to Belfast City centre, the journey takes about 40 minutes. You can also hire a taxi.

George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD) – this is situated two miles away from the Belfast city centre. It is a relatively small airport that deals with domestic flights. From the Airport take a cab to the Belfast city centre where you can choose one of the causeway rambler buses.

From Dublin

The best-known way to get to the bridge from Dublin is by driving yourself, it will take around 3 and a half hours from the city centre. If you don’t fancy driving or want to take the opportunity to see as much of the scenery as possible, then it is best to take one of the many tours that operate daily from Dublin.

You can find out more details about them here

Well, that’s it, our guide to Carrick-a-rede Ropebridge, we hope you find it useful in planning your trip. If you have already been let us know how it went and if there is anything that we have missed. We will continue to update this page as we get more information.

Guide To The Dark Hedges


The Guide to the Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges, one of the most popular attractions in Northern Ireland, is a beautiful row of beach trees that have been made famous by appearances in TV shows and films such as Game of Thrones. The Dark Hedges is a favourite stop on the Causeway Coastal Route road trip, running along Ireland’s North Coast from Belfast to Derry.

In this guide, we’re going to look at everything you need to know to get the most out of your visit to the Dark Hedges including how to get there, where to park, how to avoid the crowds, and places to stay nearby.

Table of Contents

What is the Dark Hedges?

The Dark Hedges is an avenue of mature beech trees,  planted around 1775 by James Stuart to frame the avenue leading to his home, Gracehill House. The trees, originally around 150, line both sides of Bregagh Road, forming an imposing tunnel along the roadway.

Today, the Dark Hedges still lead up to the current gates of Gracehill House.

Gracehill House itself is privately owned and operates as a bar & restaurant, wedding venue, and golf course. So you can visit the estate for a drink, meal, or play a round of golf while on your trip.

Game of Thrones (GoT) fans should visit Gracehill House during opening hours to see one of the 10 GoT-themed doors, based on the 6th season of the show. The door at Gracehill was carved from one of the Dark Hedges trees that fell during Storm Gertrude in 2016.

The 250-year-old trees, which are very atmospheric. The stunning organic tunnel of tree limbs crisscrossing the road, made famous by HBOs Game of Thrones, draws thousands of visitors from all around the world.  Sadly, many of the trees have been lost due to storms and damage (part of the reason the road was closed to traffic in 2017 was due to the damage caused), with just over 90 of the original 150 trees are still standing.

Why are they called the Dark Hedges?

From our research, it seems unclear when or why the name of the Dark Hedges was given; however, there are two likely explanations. First, the most obvious answer is that the massive trees block most of the light, resulting in a “dark” tunnel that looks like a hedge.

The other explanation is a bit eerie. Local legend has it that the hedges are haunted by a ghost known as the Grey Lady, who haunts the trees, flitting from one to another before always disappearing at the last beech tree. As the story goes that on Halloween, she is joined by spirits from a nearby ancient graveyard!

Whatever the reason for it, we are sure you will agree it’s a very appropriate name for this stunning location!

Legend has it that a Grey Lady Walks the Dark Hedges

Where is the Dark Hedges Located?

The Dark Hedges is found in County Antrim in Northern Ireland between the villages of Armoy and Stranocum, around a 20-minute drive from Portrush. They can be located on the Bregagh Road (about half a mile long), between the Ballykenver road to the south and the Ballinlea Road to the north, near The Hedges Hotel

The Hedges are around 50 miles, or an hours drive, northwest of Belfast and 150 miles, or approximately 3 hours, drive from Dublin.

How to Get to the Dark Hedges?

There are many ways to get to the Dark Hedges:  you can drive yourself, you can take a tour, or you can take public transport.

Driving to the Dark Hedges

This is probably the quickest way to get there, giving you flexibility in terms of how long you spend here and where else you can go  Its about a 20-minute drive from Portrush or if you are coming from Belfast about a 1-hour. There is free car parking a short walk from the Hedges, as the road is now closed to traffic (see parking section below).

You can still see evidence of root damage and lots of car tracks in the mud which makes us sad (and a little angry).

Note that high fines (up to £1,000) may be given to motorists attempting to drive or park along the Dark Hedges since its closure.

If you are driving up from Belfast or Dublin, we recommend that you come along the Causeway Coastal Route, along the A2, as it has some of the most breathtaking driving in the world.

Where to Park for the Dark Hedges?

This is not the view you came to see

There is a large free visitor car park beside The Hedges Hotel located just off Ballinlea Road. This is an easy two-minute walk from the north end of the Dark Hedges, along with the marked path.

Address of Parking:

139A Ballinlea Road, Stranocum, Ballymoney BT53 8PX

GPS Coordinates of Parking:  

55°08’17.9″N 6°23’01.4″W

Please don’t try to park at the entrance to the Bregagh Road, as not only can this damage the tree roots that are close to the surface, but more importantly it will also ruin everyone’s photos.

Dark Hedges by Day Tour

If you don’t have a car or maybe want to just sit back and let someone else do the driving, many guided day tour options include a stop at the Dark Hedges.

Most of the tours stop at many of the other amazing places near Portrush and along the Causeway Coastal Route, such as the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rede Rope bridge and possibly for those who like a tiple the Bushmills distillery.

You will find many tours that leave from both Belfast and Dublin including tours offered through GetYourGuide (see 20+ options here) and  Viator (you can explore 40+ tour options here).

However, we have listed some of the local companies in the Tours Section below.

Giant Tours Ireland

Dark Hedges by Public Transport

While it often decried by those who live here ( I’ve never been anywhere that this isn’t true) is also possible to get to the Dark Hedges by public transport from Portrush, Belfast and Dublin.  

Although there is no bus stop or train station at the Dark Hedges itself, there are some within walking distance.

Translink has a journey planner that is very good and can be found here

Dark Hedges By Public Bus

From Portrush it’s about an hour and a half, depending on connections, to get to the Dark Hedges. This involves getting a bus (or train) into Coleraine and from there getting the Ballycastle Bus (at time of writing the 171 Bus) and getting off at Moss Side. Moss Side is about half a mile walk from the Hedges.

From Belfast, it’s around 2 hours to 2.5 hours by bus to get to the Dark Hedges. There are a few ways you can do this, but one way is to take the Translink Goldline 218 bus (or train and the bus and train station cohabit) from Belfast to Coleraine and then change to the 171 (Ballycastle) bus at Coleraine as above.

If you are stuck, just ask for the stop nearest the Dark Hedges / The Hedges Hotel at the station or on the bus, as the Bus drivers are generally accommodating on this route.

Dark Hedges By Train

Getting to the Dark Hedges by train you have two options the first is as above get the train to Coleraine (see above), or you can take the train from Belfast to Ballymoney which takes about an hour. From there you will need to make a 10-minute taxi ride from the Ballymoney train station to reach the Dark Hedges, or take a short walk into the town and get the 178 (Ballycastle) bus and get off at Clintyfinnan stop (you’ll also see the Dark Hedges Experience at this stop.

Dark Hedges Map

This map is a quick overview of the Dark Hedges, including where the car park and the main stretch of the road are. For reference, the red line is around half a mile long.

The Red Line Shows the Length of the Dark Hedges

How much does it cost?

The Dark Hedges is currently free to park and visit. See parking information above for where you can legally park for free.

The site was not developed as a tourist destination and, until before it became famous through Game Of Thrones, it was just a short stretch of a typical country public road. There is free parking next to The Hedges Hotel and a nice path leading to the Dark Hedges.

Causeway Council has a small tourist information hut at the beginning of the path with local visitor information near the parking area.

Be warned, there are no tourist facilities at the actual Dark Hedges (water, toilets, etc.). However, the two restaurants located within a few minutes of the Dark Hedges are excellent.

The Scullery Bar & Restaurant at The Hedges Hotel serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is open to both hotel guests and visitors.

Gracehill House also has a bar and restaurant, the BellTower Restaurant, which serves lunch, dinner, bar snacks, coffee, and drinks.

The Dark Hedges in TV & Film

The show that made the Dark Hedges famous was of course Game of Thrones, the TV adaptation of George R. R. Martins bets selling novels. In the show, the Dark Hedges was used as “The Kingsroad“.

This Kings Road runs across Westeros, from Kings Landing in the south to “The Wall” in the north.

The Dark Hedges appears as the Kings Road in the Season 2 opening episode “The North Remembers“. In the episode, Arya Stark can be seen escaping from Kings Landing in a caravan, that travels through the Dark Hedges along the “Kingsroad”.

The Dark Hedge has also appeared in films such as Transformers: The Last Knight in a scene where the magician, Merlin, is riding on a horse through the trees.

The Kings Road from Season 2

Tours Visiting the Dark Hedges

If you aren’t driving yourself in Northern Ireland, then you have many tour options, both group and private tours, for visiting the Dark Hedges, both from Belfast and Dublin.

How to Avoid the Crowds at the Dark Hedges

With the increasing fame from the Game of Thrones series, the Dark Hedges has become an incredibly popular place to visit. It is also one of the most photographed locations in Northern Ireland.

Sadly, with the fame from its GoT association, it has also become overcrowded at times. Therefore, it can be challenging to have this place to yourself as many people visit throughout the day, especially in the busy summer months and bank holiday weekends.

But you can definitely plan your time, so you are here when fewer tourists are around. Here are our tips

Visit off-season between October and March. Summer is the busiest travel time, and you’ll find fewer travellers here at other times of the year….you’ll also get some of the best pictures with low light, snow and mist adding to the already fantastic place.

Avoid holidays and long weekends. These are hectic times and are always very very busy.

Arrive early or come late. Our (and most photographers) favourite time is around sunrise and sunset. Sunrise is particularly suitable as not many people will be up and it is generally not the first stop on many tours.

Walk to the furthest end from the car park/Garcehill House. Every time we have been, we have found that most folks are pretty lazy and will just get some pictures from the north end then jump back in the car/bus. So that generally means the south side is usually less busy, and the little bends and hills, block out the people on the other end.

Ireland is Wet and Cold

This is Ireland, it rains and is not known for its tropical weather…..however, youd be surprised how many are scared off by a little rain or cold. Bad weather will keep some visitors away, mainly rainfall. Pouring rain is going to make photography difficult so maybe not worth the visit, but a little drizzle can really add to the atmosphere.

Be patient.

If there are a large group of people, possibly from a bus tour, just give it 10 minutes until they leave. Most people and tours don’t spend more than 15 minutes here, which is a shame.

Where to Stay Near the Dark Hedges

The Hedges Hotel is the closest hotel to the Dark Hedges, just a few minutes walk from the Dark Hedges.  If you want to be as close as possible, then this is definitely the place to stay. The Hedges Hotel makes it easy and convenient to visit the Dark Hedges when you want…or more importantly without the crowds! Ideal for those looking to get that fantastic shot.

Here are some more options within a 15-minute drive. However, we would recommend that you base yourself in Portrush, as it is the perfect place to explore other sites and sounds.

Gardenvale Manor House B&B – Beautiful well-rated 18th-century manor house set within lovely gardens. Great place for a romantic stay. Just a 5-minute drive from the Dark Hedges.

Limepark – Luxury traditional holiday cottages with kitchens and all the amenities on a restored Georgian farm. Cottages vary in size and can sleep 2 to 6 persons. Great for those looking an upscale self-catering option. About a 6-minute drive from the Dark Hedges.

The Armada Inn – A well-rated bed-and-breakfast with a well-rated restaurant. Just a 5-minute drive from the Dark Hedges.

Mill House Studio Apartment – A modern studio apartment in a tranquil setting on the site of an old flax mill. A good option for families. A 4-minute drive from the Dark Hedges.

Dark Hedges Cottage – A well-rated 2-bedroom holiday cottage within a 6-minute drive of the Dark Hedges. Another good option for families.

Marine Hotel Ballycastle – A casual 3-star hotel with a restaurant and seafront views in Ballycastle. Located a 2-minute walk from the beach and a 14-minute drive to the Dark Hedges. Ballycastle is a good option for those travelling by public bus and is also where you can get the ferry to Rathlin Island.


The closest hostels are Bushmills Youth Hostel (20-minute drive), Sheep Island View Hostel (14-minute drive) or Portrush Youth Hostel (25-Minute drive)


The closest campsite to the Dark Hedges is Charlies Hideaway (5-minute drive), although note this site is for Camping and Caravanning Club members only. Other nearby campgrounds are Fairhead Caravan Park (15 minutes) and Ballyness Caravan Park (20 minutes away).

We hope you find our guide to visiting the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland useful.

Wed love to hear if you have been to the Dark Hedges? If so, what was the experience like for you?

As always, feel free to ask us any questions you may have about the Dark Hedges or things to do near Portrush by Tagging us on social media or emailing us.

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Historic Buildings


Dunluce Castle
Medieval & 17th century castle
Open to the public, 3 miles east of Portrush
87 Dunluce Road, Bushmills, BT57 8UY
Tel: 028 2073 1938

Dunseverick Castle
Older ruinous castle, protected by the National Trust
8 miles east of Portrush
Causeway Road, Dunseverick

Mussenden Temple

Mussenden Temple
Built 1785 by Frederick Augustus Hervey, as a memorial for his cousin
Protected by the National Trust & features magnificent views
12 miles east of Portrush, near Castlerock
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne, Mussenden Road, Castlerock
Tel: 028 2073 1582

Church buildings

St. Patrick’s RC Church
Causeway Street, Portrush
B Listed

Dr.Adam Clarke Memorial Methodist Church
Causeway Street / Eglinton Street, Portrush
B Listed

Presbyterian Church
Main Street / Eglinton Street, Portrush
B Listed

Reformed Presbyterian Church
Glenmanus Road, Portrush
B Listed

Holy Trinity Parish Church
Main Street, Portrush
B+ Listed


The Arcadia, Causeway Street,Portrush

B Listed

War Memorial
Kerr Street / Mark Street junction,Portrush

B1 Listed

Other Buildings

Northern Bank
Main Street Portrush
B Listed

Factory (Morelli’s Ice Cream)
Eglinton Lane (rear of 4 Dunluce Avenue) Portrush, BT56 8BN
Not Listed

Seabank Hall, Bath Terrace, Portrush
B1 Listed

Town Hall, Mark Street, Portrush
B1 Listed

Railway building
Traks Nightclub, Eglinton Street,Portrush
B1 Listed

Store, Antrim House, 73 Main Street Portrush, BT56 8BN
B2 Listed

Hotel buildings

Northern Counties Hotel
Main Street, Portrush

The Windsor Guest House
67-69 Main Street, Portrush
B Listed

Residential buildings

6-26, 10, 11 Kerr Street, Portrush
Not Listed

29 Kerr Street, Portrush
B Listed

29, 30, 31, 36, 37, 38 Kerr Street, Portrush
B1 Listed

6-8 Bath Street, Portrush
B2 Listed

71 Bath Street, Portrush
B1 Listed

Craig Vara House, 5 Craig Vara Terrace, Portrush
B2 Listed

Manse, Main Street, Portrush
B Listed

61 Dhu Varren, Portrush, BT56 8LN
Not Listed

Co. Antrim

Retail buildings

23-25, 27 Main Street, Portrush
B1 Listed

59, 61 Main Street, Portrush
B2 Listed

63, 65 Main Street, Portrush
B Listed

Post Office, Causeway Street, Portrush
B1 Listed


Ballywillan Presbyterian Church
131 Atlantic Road, Portrush, BT56 8PB
Tel: 028 7082 2612
Sunday services 9:30am & 11:30am

Dunluce Christian Fellowship
17 Dunluce Ave, Portrush, BT56
Tel: 07784 806 654
Sunday services 10am, 11:30am & 6pm

Glenmanus Reformed Presbyterian Church
23-25 Portstewart Road, Portrush, BT56 8EH
Tel: 028 1234 5678
Sunday services 11:30am & 7pm

Holy Trinity Church of Ireland
62 Main Street, Portrush, BT56 8BN
Tel: 028 7082 4024
Sunday services 8:30am, 11am & 6:30pm

Portrush Baptist Church
11, Portstewart Road, Portrush, County Antrim, BT56 8EG
028 7032 9911
Sunday services 11am & 7pm

Portrush Methodist Church
2 Corrstown Park, Portrush, BT56
028 7082 2255
Sunday service 10:30am (& 8pm July & August)

Portrush Pentecostal Church
13 Hamilton Place, Portrush, BT56 8DB
Tel: 028 7082 5376

Portrush Presbyterian Church
Mark Street, Portrush, BT56 8BT
Tel: 028 7082 3456
Sunday services 10:30am & 6:30pm


East Strand Beach Portrush in the sun looking over the town

West Strand
Sandy beach with promenade walk from harbour alongside the town
West side of Portrush

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East Strand
Long sandy beach with adjacent car park. Leads to Whiterocks beach
East side of Portrush

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Blue Flag Beach with unique white rock cliffs and formations
3 miles east of Portrush, near Dunluce Castle

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White Park Bay
Sandy beach with unique white rock cliffs and formations
11 miles east of Portrush, near Dunseverick Castle


Portstewart Strand
Blue Flag Beach protected by the National Trust, with a view of Mussenden Temple in the distance.
4 miles west of Portrush, on west side of Portstewart


Downhill Beach
Beautfiful beach leading to Benone Strand
Downhill, west of Castlerock

Benone Strand
Blue Flag Beach with unique white rock cliffs and formations
Benone, 15 miles west of Portrush, west of Castlerock